D.C.’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board denied the liquor license application for the soon-to-open campus restaurant TONIC last week after months of deliberation.
The co-owner of TONIC, Jeremy Pollok, a GW alumnus who owns the same restaurant in the Mount Pleasant area, said TONIC will open without the license in late April.
“It’s been a process, I can say that much,” Pollok said. “We would have liked to have (a liquor license) for opening, and we hope we can have it sometime in the future.”
The restaurant, which stands on the property formerly occupied by Quigley’s Pharmacy on the corner of 21st and G streets, will rely on the qualities that made the other TONIC restaurant in Mount Pleasant famous, Pollak said. Although the restaurant was slated to open in March, TONIC is still undergoing “finishing touches,” such as interior work and staffing, Pollok said. He said the restaurant will initially be open for dinner only but will then expand to include breakfast and lunch.
“Even though we are without the license, we think GW students will love us anyway,” Pollok said. “We’re going to have great food, great coffee, a great atmosphere, everything.”
TONIC’s attorney, 1978 alumnus Andrew Kline, said the license issue was complicated because the property is within 200 feet of a high school, which subjects it to an ordinance that precludes a liquor license from being issued to nearby venues. He said the main problem, though, stemmed from the property’s residential zoning.
“It’s too bad,” Kline said. “That property has a long history of retail use. When I was at GW, rumor had it that Jackie Kennedy used to drink her milkshakes there.”
When asked about the possibility of getting a liquor license in the future, Kline said he and the owner are still evaluating their next move.
The first floor of the restaurant is designed to have high-top tables and a casual bar setting where students can socialize while the second floor would be reserved for dining. TONIC’s third floor will be outfitted with a stage and comfortable couches meant for private events and casual student use.
Junior Lawrence Cohen said the restaurant will have to have good food now that alcohol is off the menu. He said students will probably be disappointed TONIC cannot be the exclusive neighborhood bar as it was planned.
“It’s like WOW Wingery. If it has good food, I’ll go there for food,” Cohen said. WOW was originally set to open in August 2006 as a full-service restaurant serving beer and wine. It opened in mid-January, and continues to be a counter-service venue without a liquor license.
Cohen added that it will be at least another dining option, which students are always looking for.
It’s not very important that the restaurant and bar is now just a restaurant, junior Turner Payne said.
“I think (the residential restriction) is a good reason to not have (a bar) there,” Payne said. “There are so many places around campus to go drink.”